AP Fact Check: Trump exaggerates about predicting bin Laden and 9/11 attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump falsely asserted that he predicted Osama bin Laden's 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in a news conference Sunday aimed at showcasing his administration's accomplishments in stemming the terrorist threat abroad.

A look at the president's claims at the briefing, where he announced the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group:

TRUMP: "I'm writing a book ... About a year before the World Trade Center came down, the book came out. I was talking about Osama bin Laden. I said, 'You have to kill him. You have to take him out.' Nobody listened to me." Trump added that people said to him, "'You predicted that Osama Bin Laden had to be killed, before he knocked down the World Trade Center.' It's true."

THE FACTS: It's not true.

His 2000 book, "The America We Deserve," makes a passing mention of bin Laden but did no more than point to the al-Qaida leader as one of many threats to U.S. security. Nor does he say in the book that bin Laden should have be killed.

As part of his criticism of what he considered Bill Clinton's haphazard approach to U.S. security as president, Trump wrote: "One day we're told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin Laden is public enemy Number One, and U.S. jetfighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it's on to a new enemy and new crisis."

15 PHOTOS
Osama bin Laden
See Gallery
Osama bin Laden
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: Osama bin Laden born March 10, 1957. member of the prominent Saudi bin Laden family and the founder of the Islamic extremist organization al-Qaeda, best known for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
AFGHANISTAN - MAY 26: (JAPAN OUT)(VIDEO CAPTURE) This image taken from a collection of videotapes obtained by CNN shows Saudi terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden at a press conference May 26, 1998 in Afghanistan. The tape showing this image was included in a large collection of videotapes obtained by CNN from a secret location in Afghanistan. Although it can not be positively verified that the tapes were created by the al Qaeda terrorist network the tapes do show dramatic and sometimes repulsive images of poison gas experiments on dogs, instructions on making TNT and weapons training by men speaking Arabic. (Photo by CNN via Getty Images)
AFGHANISTAN - MAY 26: (JAPAN OUT)(VIDEO CAPTURE) This image taken from a collection of videotapes obtained by CNN shows Saudi terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden and his unidentified body guards watching a rocket propelled grenade fly overhead on May 26, 1998 in Afghanistan. The tape showing this image was included in a large collection of videotapes obtained by CNN from a secret location in Afghanistan. Although it can not be positively verified that the tapes were created by the al Qaeda terrorist network the tapes do show dramatic and sometimes repulsive images of poison gas experiments on dogs, instructions on making TNT and weapons training by men speaking Arabic. (Photo by CNN via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JUNE: A screengrab released on 1998 showing Osama Bin Laden, renegade fundamentalist Saudi millionaire said to be initiator of the bombings of US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. (Photo by WTN PICS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (C) answers questions from the media as US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (L) and US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (R) look on during a meeting with military leaders at the Pentagon 17 September, 2001. The President said that the United States wants Saudi-born suspected terror mastermind Osama bin Laden brought to justice 'dead or alive'. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
PAKISTAN - SEPTEMBER 16: Daily life In Quetta, Pakistan On September 16, 2001 - Pakistanis Police in the streets of Quetta, a city located 200kms from Bin Laden's secret HQ, in Afghanistan. (Photo by Pool AVENTURIER/GLADIEU/STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
PAKISTAN - SEPTEMBER 16: Daily life In Quetta, Pakistan On September 16, 2001 - Afghans of Quetta reading Bin Laden-related news in local newspaper. (Photo by Pool AVENTURIER/GLADIEU/STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
PAKISTAN - SEPTEMBER 17: Osama Bin Laden posters sold in bookshops In Quetta, Pakistan On September 17, 2001. (Photo by Pool AVENTURIER/GLADIEU/STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
PAKISTAN - SEPTEMBER 17: Osama Bin Laden posters sold in bookshops In Quetta, Pakistan On September 17, 2001. (Photo by Pool AVENTURIER/GLADIEU/STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
394642 01: People hold 'No War' signs at a peace rally September 19, 2001 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Sporadic protests were small but police stopped all rallies in the capitol city saying they were against the law. In other areas of Pakistan protesters burned American flags and supported Osama bin Laden as they demonstrated against an expected U.S. attack on Afghanistan. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
394704 03: (SYDSVENSKA DAGBLADET OUT) Youths supporting Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban movement look at a newspaper cover of Bin Laden September 20, 2001 outside Jamia Islamia mosque in central Rawalpindi, Pakistan about 15 kilometers outside Islamabad. Most of the youths attend Sipah-e Sahaba, a religious school in the area known for educating future Taliban members. (Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 11: President George W. Bush speaks to reporters during his first prime-time news conference since taking office in the East Room of the White House. Bush said that he doesn't know whether Osama Bin Laden is dead or alive, but offered to halt the war in Afghanistan if the Taliban turns over 'the evil one' and fellow 'parasites that hide in their country.' (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: New York Yankee fans hold up an anti-Osama bin Laden sign during the American League Division Series game one between the Oakland Athletics and the Yankees 10 October, 2001, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Athletics won the game 5-3. AFP PHOTO/Timothy CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
395648 09: Sikhs attend a community service to remember victims of terrorist attacks, October 10, 2001 in Santa Ana, CA. Although Sikhs are not Muslims and come from India, they have been targeted in recent hate crimes because the men wear turbans and beards similar to terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
395589 11: (FILE PHOTO) Osama bin Laden sits in front of a map in this undated still frame from a recruitment video for his extremist Al-Qaida network. (Photo by Al Rai Al Aam/Feature Story News/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The book did not call for further U.S. action against bin Laden or al-Qaida to follow up on attacks Clinton ordered in 1998 in Afghanistan and Sudan after al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The U.S. attacks were meant to disrupt bin Laden's network and destroy some of al-Qaida's infrastructure, such as a factory in Sudan associated with the production of a nerve gas ingredient. They "missed" in the sense that bin Laden was not killed in them, and al-Qaida was able to pull off 9/11 three years later.

In passages on terrorism, Trump's book does correctly predict that the U.S. was at risk of a terrorist attack that would make the 1993 World Trade Center bombing pale by comparison. That was a widespread concern at the time, as Trump suggested in stating "no sensible analyst rejects this possibility."

Still, Trump did not explicitly tie that threat to al-Qaida and thought an attack might come through a miniaturized weapon of mass destruction, like a nuclear device in a suitcase or anthrax.

___

TRUMP: "Nobody ever heard of Osama bin Laden until really the World Trade Center."

THE FACTS: That's incorrect. Bin Laden was well known by the CIA, other national security operations, experts and the public long before 9/11, with the CIA having a unit entirely dedicated to bin Laden going back to the mid-1990s. The debate at the time was over whether Clinton and successor President George W. Bush could have done more against al-Qaida to prevent the 2001 attacks.

___

Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

Read Full Story